Saturday, November 1, 2008


Everyone has tough times. We need someone or something to "comfort us" and help us to get back on our feet. The word comfort occurs 66 times in the Bible. Use the word "Comforter" and we get another 8 Bible verses about comfort. Four of those verses were in the teachings of Jesus. This verse explains what we need in tough times. (Lam 1:16 NIV) "This is why I weep and my eyes overflow with tears. No one is near to comfort me, no one to restore my spirit. My children are destitute because the enemy has prevailed."

Jesus taught, (John 14:16-18 NIV) "And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another (Comforter KJV) Counselor to be with you forever-- {17} the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. {18} I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you."

O.K. What does the picture have to do with any of this? My beautiful and wonderful granddaughter Amie is holding the dog she bought for a very low price. The pet store thought he was a poodle... but turns out he is a "bichon." She named him "Sammy". He's the most intelligent, loving and comforting pet I've ever known. It wasn't long until everyone in the family was the object of his love and concern. The "dog whisperer" you see on the National Geographic TV show training bad dogs would go out of business if all dogs were like Sammy. Everyone who comes in the door of the house gets his loving attention.

I believe that Jesus intended for all of us to be "loving comforters" and we can learn a lot from Sammy. When Amie brought him home my daughter Debbie and son in Law Ron had a poodle that was dying. Once Sammy was comfortable with the house he began to care for Bandit. I saw him go over to "Bandit" who was dying, and carefully and quietly lay down beside her. I was astonished at how Sammy cared for Bandit, standing back and waiting for her to eat or get a drink of water. When Bandit died, we all wept over her. Sammy seemed upset as well and wanted to be close to all of the family.

There's something you need to know about Sammy. The vet told Amie and family that Sammy had obviously been mistreated by someone. This person must have assumed he was a poodle and cut off his tail. During that process his back left leg was broken and never healed right. He also had damage to his spine. He runs like the wind on three legs by holding up his back left leg. I've watched him run like a bullet up the 15 steps to the second story of their home. I don't know how he does it with all the pain he endures. Sometimes the pain does overcome him and he sits quietly and shakes. When he is "shaking" the family has to give him powerful pain medication.

In spite of his physical problems and obvious pain, he is the most loving, cheerful, happy little fellow I've ever seen. Let me brag a little bit. I have the greatest son in law in the world. He takes care of his family and welcomes everyone into his home. Ron and Sammy have a special relationship. They have lots of games they like to play. Ron is the traffic manager for Roadway Express and comes in tired. Sammy meets him at the door excited and ready to play. So Ron will get down on the floor, and play all kinds of games with Sammy. It's their special time together. It's a delightful time for the whole family who watches.

At Thanksgiving and Christmas my wife and I spend time with Debbie and her family. Anytime we eat I feel the soft touch of Sammy's little paws on my leg. He learned quickly that I'm a pushover for giving him part of my meal. A tradition in the family is to give Sammy a "Holiday" plate of food. Ron gets on the floor and growls and fusses with Sammy before letting go of the plate. Sammy wins and Ron laughs while we all stand around and watch.

There's no problem about who is going to keep Sammy if Ron, Debbie or Amie is going to be out of town. Jamie my grandson who is a commercial photographer will gladly keep him at his big house. When my grandson Ken comes home from his job as Senior Music director of a large church he brings his dog Jolie. She is a 70 pound "Samoyed" who was trained entirely in French by Ken. There's no problem between Jolie and Sam. They get along just great.

Does Sammy have fun in spite of his physical problems? Yes! He scares us all to death by going out the back door... and occasionally running the length of the neighbor's wooden fence. They have three dogs the size of small pony's and it drives them crazy to see Sammy running the fence. One of them broke the fence completely off down near the ground trying to get to Sammy. Everyone is trying to break Sammy's bad habit but he runs so fast with his ears flying in the wind... it's hard to stop.

If only Sammy could talk I would like to know what's in his head. He tries to talk at times .... but can't so I'll just have to guess. Obviously he had some terrible mistreatment. Amie had gone through a painful divorce and needed Sammy. He needed her love and affection. They helped each other. That's what life is all about. Do that and no one will ever have to suffer alone.

I know the story of the book of Job very well. There are things I don't understand about it. Here is the real heart of that story. Why did God allow Job to loose everything? Why did God allow his only beloved son to suffer and die on Calvary? Both of these sad stories required suffering.

The suffering of Job was terrible. He had boils: something called black leprosy by the Arabs, termed Elephantiasis by the Greeks, from its rendering the skin, like that of the elephant, scabrous, dark coloured, and furrowed all over with tubercles. This loathsome and most afflictive disease is accompanied with the most intolerable itching. Poor Job scraped his skin with broken pottery.

In Job's story he is suffering also because he has lost everything. His wife tells him to curse God and die. The name Job means "the persecuted one" His three friend come to "comfort him" and end up accusing him of sin and wrong doing. Their behavior is an excellent story of "how not to do it". In their ignorance and arrogance they only made it worse for Job.

(Job 16:1-5 NIV) "Then Job replied: {2} "I have heard many things like these; miserable comforters are you all! {3} Will your long-winded speeches never end? What ails you that you keep on arguing? {4} I also could speak like you, if you were in my place; I could make fine speeches against you and shake my head at you. {5} But my mouth would encourage you; comfort from my lips would bring you relief."

Then God weighs in on the problem: "(Job 42:7-8 NIV) "After the LORD had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, "I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. {8} So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has."

They ask Job to pray for them - God accepted Job's prayer... and gave to Job double what he had lost. The LORD blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the first. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. {13} And he also had seven sons and three daughters. Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job's daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers."

How can I comfort someone who is hurt, struggling to keep their balance, worried because they don't know what to do? What can I do when I don't know how to solve their problems.

Maybe we should ask Sammy how to do it? If he had a Ph.D and could talk Sammy would probably say: "Don't say anything most of the time. You can't change emotions with logic or an argument. You can only change emotions with emotion. Show some love, affection, or give a big hug. Do that often with great sincerity. Keep it going. I know it's hard but try to be warm and cheerful. Don't expect too much at first... a little progress is great. Give it time. Try to listen and give them lots of the love and affection they need and really want.

I'm pretty sure that Jolie would agree.